Friday, March 20, 2015

Monseñor Romero to the altars

by Victor Codina, SJ (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Blog de Cristianisme i Justícia
March 16, 2015

On March 24, 1980, two days after the assassination of Luis Espinal in La Paz, a jeep stopped for a few seconds at the door of the chapel of La Providencia hospital in San Salvador where Mons. Romero was celebrating the Eucharist, and an expert sniper shot him in the chest. Romero fell, bloody and mortally wounded. On the way to the polyclinic, he uttered his last words: "May God forgive them."

Why did they kill Romero? A Salvadoran peasant expressed it simply: "Monseñor Romero told the truth. He defended us poor. And for that, they killed him." One day before his murder, Romero in his Sunday homily at the cathedral had asked and ordered the army in the name of God and the suffering Salvadoran people to stop the repression. Those prophetic words that sum up what Romero had said and done during his three years as archbishop, were undoubtedly the ultimate trigger of his death.

Romero denounced the injustice of the country, the absolutization of wealth by a small oligarchy, the subservience of the military to the oligarchs, American support for an inhumane system, the corruption of justice, the lies of the media, the torture and murder of poor people. His denunciations were accompanied by a call to conversion to the gospel of Jesus, the God of life whose glory is that the poor live.

Romero himself had his "conversion" to the gospel and went from a godly life but one linked to the powerful traditionalist Christians, to a closeness to the God of the poor. The poor, the cry of their suffering, the dead he had to go and collect each week, taught him to read the Gospel, converted him to a faith united with justice.

He didn't lack for difficulties and misunderstandings on the part of his brothers in the episcopate and sometimes even from Rome. He was accused of being naive, a Marxist revolutionary, of fomenting violence. His beatification cause was blocked for years in the Vatican.

Now Pope Francis has unblocked his cause, has acknowledged that Romero died a martyr, and has announced his beatification on May 23, 2015.

This beatification, above and beyond the joy of Salvadoran and Latin American people, confirms that Romero was right, that he was a man of God, a true prophet of the Kingdom, a pastor who not only smelled like sheep but, like Jesus, gave his life for the people. He wasn't a theologian but a pastor who made the faith credible. With Romero, God visited El Salvador and Latin America. His life and death are similar to that of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Salvadoran people have considered him a saint for years. They keep his portrait in their homes, they go pray at his tomb, they give their sons the names "Oscar" and "Romerito". Now Romero is raised to the altars; his life is an example. If being a Christian is living as Romero lived and died, it's worth being a Christian today.

The poem that Brazilian bishop Pedro Casaldaliga wrote 35 years ago is coming true:

San Romero de América, pastor y mártir nuestro, (…),
Pobre pastor glorioso, asesinado a sueldo, a dólar, a divisa,(…)
América Latina ya te puso en la gloria de Bernini,(…)
¡nadie hará callar tu última homilía!


Saint Romero of America, our shepherd and martyr, (…),
Poor glorious shepherd, assassinated for money, for dollars, for foreign exchange,(…)
Latin America has already laid you in its glory of Bernini,(…)
nobody will silence your last homily!

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